better choices

#IWD2018 women must make better choices

As we celebrate the progress of Australian women this #IWD2018, we look at where wins can be made on education and better choices.

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This International Women’s Day is all about #pressforprogress and that is as much about pressuring government and business to make positive changes towards equality as it is about making better choices for ourselves.

This realisation came to me not just through the hours of research that’s gone into the Financy Women’s Index but also after interviewing 21 year old engineering student, Jessica Massih.

Jess is a UTS student and part of a growing number of young women who are studying engineering, and almost certain of working in a higher paying career and hopefully one that has a shrinking gender pay gap.

“I think it is really exciting to be part of a generation that is breaking it [the gender pay gap] down.

“There are more opportunities for women and greater awareness today. We have enough data now that we can recognise patterns and trends.

“The barriers are slowly breaking down the traditional stereotypes and diversity is being more encouraged.

“Now people have more of an awareness of these choices, so for an individual they have more and better choices but I also wonder if they were always there and people just didn’t take them up?

For the first time since its inception, the Financy Women’s Index for the December quarter found there was a strong correlation and growing trend between women choosing educational courses linked to higher paying industries.

It’s not entirely rocket science that studying courses which have skills in high demand or that align to better paying industries, will help women with money, but it will also help with much more.

The Index found that it can also help to narrow the wage disparity in higher paying and mostly male dominated sectors of the economy.

Furthermore improving employment outcomes are being borne out in a narrowing of the superannuation savings gender gap.

Women are continuing to outpace men when it comes to enrolling in tertiary education. We are also seeing a strong correlation in females studying courses which provide educational pathways to higher paying careers.

The most recent 2016 data from the Department of Education shows there were over 807,000 female tertiary enroilments, compared to 650,000 males.

Overall this represents 55 per cent of students being women, compared to 45 per cent men and suggests that an increasing number of females are undertaking some form of study beyond high school.

Information technology (IT) and engineering and related technologies have shown the greatest gains in female enrolments.

Analysis of the average five year growth rate of female enrolments in IT courses jumped 33 per cent in 2016, compared to a 32 per cent rise in male enrolments. The rate of females IT enrolments is three times higher than what it was in 2015.

That said, females represent only 19 per cent of total student enrolments in IT courses, with men making up 81 per cent of students.

The third fastest growth field for females is engineer and related technologies, which experienced a 30 per cent rise in enrolments among females compared to a 19 per cent increase in males.

Again the growth in engineering courses is coming off a very low base with only 17 per cent of the 111,000 total students enrolled being women.

Education, which is now the fifth best paying sector for women, remains the most popular subject for women to study with around 75 per cent female enrolments compared to 25 per cent men.

While health, which is about average in terms of female wages, is the second most popular with 72 per cent females studying versus 28 per cent men.

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